ST MARY’S (Sporting Alert) – Theo Walcott will start as the center forward again when Arsenal travel to St. Mary’s Stadium to face Southampton in their Barclays Premier League fixture on Tuesday.
Walcott is coming off a three goal performance in the Gunners’ 7-3 hammering of Newcastle over the weekend and manager Arsene Wenger is set to keep his same line-up for the New Year’s Day trip.
Olivier Giroud is back and came off the bench to score twice in the last game.
Still, the center forward is finding it difficult to win back his place in the starting team.
“He (Walcott) likes it [in that position]. But I believe Theo is just happy to play, even if he is on the wing because he still knows he can score,” Wenger told Arsenal.com.
“I like the fact he can play through the middle because it gives us more opportunities to do that and more possibilities to change from game to game. I will do it again.”
The 23-year-old Walcott will come up against his former club and the England attacker is looking forward to the special occasion.
“Looking at our Premier League form recently, it has been very strong,” Walcott said on Arsenal official website at www.arsenal.com.
“We are looking to climb the table, take every game as it comes and we have another match on Tuesday.
“It will be a very tough occasion against Southampton, but it is one I am really looking forward to. I am probably going to wrap myself in bubble wrap for the next few days!
“It will be a very special moment for me and Alex [Oxlade-Chamberlain], and also for some of the fans to see us come back to the club.”
Centre-back Per Mertesacker is once again available after he missed the Newcastle contest because of illness, but Wenger is expected to name an unchanged starting squad which means Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny could continue at the back.
In Southampton team news, the Saints will again be without captain Adam Lallana, who has a knee injury.
Manager Nigel Adkins could also be without right-back Nathaniel Clyne, who is complaining about knee problems as well.
Event: BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
Venue: St Mary’s Stadium
Date: Tuesday, 1 January, 2013
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PREDICTION: Arsenal 3 vs Southampton 1
Southampton vs Arsenal Teams:
Southampton squad: K Davis, Gazzaniga, Boruc, Richardson, Butterfield, Stephens, Clyne, Fox, Shaw, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fonte, Reeves, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Cork, Chaplow, De Ridder, Ramirez, Schneiderlin, S Davis, Puncheon, Lee, Lambert, Rodriguez, Mayuka.
Arsenal squad: Szczesny, Gibbs, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Sagna, Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Walcott, Mannone, Ramsey, Coquelin, Giroud, Gervinho, Djourou, Jenkinson, Arshavin.